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Ohtani continues to progress, happy with salary

Simmons scratched with elbow discomfort; Upton nears game action
@RhettBollinger
March 14, 2019

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani has continued to progress with his throwing program that started this past Friday, as he moved up to 55 throws from up to 50 feet on Wednesday. Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent on Oct. 1, didn’t take any swings on

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Shohei Ohtani has continued to progress with his throwing program that started this past Friday, as he moved up to 55 throws from up to 50 feet on Wednesday.

Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent on Oct. 1, didn’t take any swings on Wednesday, but said it’s part of the plan, as he’ll ease his hitting drills on days that he throws. He’s currently participating in soft-toss hitting drills nearly every day, while throwing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

"Right now, the intensity level is probably about 30 percent,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “It doesn't bother me at all. But I'm not sure what will happen once I increase the intensity. I'll continue to work with the medical staff."

Ohtani, who is on track for a return in May and will only serve as a designated hitter this season, also said he was pleased with his increase in salary, as he will earn $650,000 this season after winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018.

Clubs can assign any salary above the minimum to non-arbitration-eligible players like Ohtani and generally have a formula based on performance to determine a salary. For comparison, the last two reigning Rookie of the Years had slightly lower salaries than Ohtani, with the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger making $585,000 last year and the Yankees' Aaron Judge earning $622,000.

"I wasn't expecting a huge raise either way,” Ohtani said. “But I'm satisfied with what they gave me, and I'll concentrate on the season."

Pena pleased with outing

Right-hander Felix Peña, who could make the club as the fifth starter with Andrew Heaney possibly out for the start of the regular season, was mostly solid in the Angels' 9-3 loss to the Padres on Wednesday night, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and has a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings this spring.

Pena said he's not worried about competing for a rotation spot along with lefty Dillon Peters.

“I can’t control making the team or not," Pena said through an interpreter. "I just want to go out there and give it my best.”

Pena, who had a 4.18 ERA in 19 appearances (17 starts) last year, said his main issue against San Diego was pitching out of the stretch, but it's something he believes he can fix this spring.

“I’m right where I want to be," Pena said. "I feel very good with my strength. I just have to work off the stretch a little bit more. It's a little mechanical. It's like a little jerk motion off like the back foot. That’s about it.”

Injury updates

• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was scratched from Wednesday's lineup with minor right elbow discomfort, but he downplayed the injury and believes he will return Thursday.

“I was only a little sore a couple days ago, but I feel fine,” Simmons said.

• Left fielder Justin Upton, who has been out all spring with right knee tendinitis, fielded fly balls in the outfield and also ran the bases. He could play in a game as early as this weekend.

• Third baseman Zack Cozart, who is out with a left calf strain, fielded ground balls and ran on a treadmill. He’s still aiming to be ready for the start of the regular season.

• Left-hander Tyler Skaggs, who has been dealing with left forearm fatigue, threw a bullpen session and is likely to make his next start in a Minor League game.

Up next

Right-hander Jaime Barria was pushed back a day, as he was scheduled to start Wednesday night but will instead take the mound on Thursday against the Brewers in Phoenix at 1:05 p.m. PT. Barria is expected to make the rotation, as he was the favorite for the fifth starter spot and could be moved up with Heaney possibly out for the beginning of the season.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.